Wyoming Liberty Group
CHEYENNE – Wyoming Liberty Group attorneys Benjamin Barr and Steve Klein filed an amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) brief in the Texas Fifth Court of Appeals at Dallas, arguing that a political contributor’s convictions for organized crime, bribery and money laundering for campaign finance violations unconstitutionally abridge his First Amendment rights.
In 2007, David and Stacy Cary broke several campaign finance laws under the Texas Election Code, indirectly contributing excessive funds to a judicial candidate. The candidate won the election handily, but was then indicted along with the Carys.
After five years of gridlock, last week a majority of four of six commissioners at the Federal Election Commission finally voted to update the FEC’s regulations to comply with the Citizens United decision. For years, the three commissioners representing the Democrats insisted that along with updating the regulations the commission should add new “disclosure” requirements. Thankfully, Democrat appointee Ann Ravel, who has served on the commission for just over a year, finally agreed to break the stopgap and drop the demand. One of her fellow Democrat commissioners Ellen Weintraub—who has served on the commission for a long time and remains despite her latest term being years expired—is not pleased, and issued a statement of reasons why she would not vote to simply follow the Citizens United precedent.
An unfortunate trend in election law is emerging across America. Campaign finance laws—first designed to supposedly eliminate corruption in government—often instead become the tools of political operatives used to delay, impede, and harass opponents. In other words, campaign finance reform itself is corrupting; its tool is the criminalization of American politics.
One of the silliest carve-outs (or exceptions) in modern campaign finance law is the so-called “Socialist Workers” exemption to campaign finance reporting. The Supreme Court ruled in the 1976 case Buckley v. Valeo that if certain groups could show retaliation and oppression due to their views, they could be exempted from disclosing their contributors publicly. The Socialist Workers Party achieved this in 1982 after prolonged litigation that also went to the Supreme Court. The Federal Election Commission recently renewed the SWP’s exemption in 2013.
CHEYENNE – The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled in Texas v. DeLay today that evidence used to convict former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of money laundering and conspiracy in 2010 was insufficient, affirming an earlier appeal that overturned DeLay’s verdict. The court’s opinion reaffirms arguments made by Wyoming Liberty Group attorneys Benjamin Barr and Steve Klein in friend-of-the-court briefs filed in both appeals.
CHEYENNE – WyLiberty attorney Steve Klein submitted comments in a memorandum to the Wyoming Department of Administration and Information (“A&I”) today, discussing constitutional problems with two proposed changes to the State of Wyoming Personnel Rules. The memo argues that these provisions are vague and overbroad, and threaten the free speech and association of applicants for state employment.